If you are involved with environmental activism you have heard of Greta Thunberg, a once lonely but now very active Swedish girl that is seeking to stop global warming. When her parents and peers tried to talk her out of it, the now 16-year-old only wanted to do it even more. Thunberg always thought that one person couldn’t make a difference until she realized that one person needs to raise their voice for the next one to listen. Thunberg, who is reaching many students to join her movement to skip class and raise awareness of climate change, has done an amazing job for being so young.
Thunberg took charge back in August 2018, becoming a prominent figure by organizing school strikes. The movement quickly grew, after she first skipped school and demonstrated by herself outside the parliament building in Sweden, petitioning the government to reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. But her school strike was just the beginning; Thunberg was invited to speak at TEDx Stockholm, a United Nations Climate Change Conference, and was recently invited to talk to the World Economic Forum in Davos, where she was able to get her message out.
What many people don’t know about Thunberg is that her mother Malena Ernman is one of Sweden’s most celebrated opera singers. Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor and author who is mostly only famous in Sweden. Their network and influence helped people understand that Thunberg was serious about her actions towards climate change. Thunberg mentioned in one of her statements, “I don’t care if what I’m doing – what we’re doing – is hopeful. We need to do it anyway. Even if there’s no hope left, and everything is hopeless, we must do what we can.” Thunberg shows with her words, her actions and her persistence that this is how you need to act to raise awareness towards serious issues around the world. Otherwise, not everyone will take them seriously.
That brought me to the question of whether people at New England College should join the climate change movement. Unfortunately, there are many environmental problems that deserve interest and action. The U.S. leaving the Paris Agreement, nuclear accidents, pollution, waste and overpopulation. But here on our college campus there are smaller issues we could focus on, like keeping our river clean, frequently cleaning up our campus, reducing pollution by walking to class instead of driving.
Is NEC energy efficient, should we switch to solar or wind power? Does NEC do enough for us students to recycle?
I took my thoughts and opinions and then talked with some fellow students, asking, do you know about Greta Thunberg and her movement in response to climate change and what do you think NEC can do? Everyone I talked to responded with some understanding of Greta Thunberg and her movement; however, the students I asked all happened to be from Sweden. The vague response was that she’s the young girl that is skipping school to support and raise awareness about climate change. This isn’t what Thunberg would want people to think of her. She obviously understands the importance of school but it’s affecting her reputation in a negative way.
It’s hard to compare two countries, in which one is very determined to change and take the environmental question very seriously, while the other, in this case United States, isn’t as involved in changing the environment, said one student. But I believe that here at NEC, if we added information on how important it is to recycle and how to recycle it would eliminate much trash that we throw away into the wrong bins or even on the ground. People also aren’t educated enough to understand the negative impact of climate change.
Maybe New England College needs it owns Thun berg, an activist that leads the campus to care more about a serious issue that we need to face. It could be a start of a new movement that potentially spreads to other campuses. All this is hypothetically speaking, but we need to start somewhere.